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Floor Sweepings and Other Shameful Dog Food Ingredients — Oh My!

Mike Sagman


Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman


Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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Updated: September 27, 2023

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In case you haven’t read one lately, dog food ingredient lists can be downright ghastly.Shocked by Grain By-Products in Dog Food

Yet these same disturbing lists still represent the only way to catch a glimpse of what’s really inside a product.

Since most of my research had so far been focused on meat protein, I recently decided it was time to take a closer look at the cereal grain side of dog food processing.

And besides, I was really looking forward to taking a break from the grisly subject of meat, and learning more about what I’d imagined to be “wholesome” grains.

Yet nothing had prepared me for the truly disgraceful ingredients I’d actually encounter.

Nutritious Grains?
Or Agricultural Rejects?

It seems some of the cereal grain items found on a list of dog food ingredients are nothing more than by-products — leftovers from the human food industry.

It’s this dreadful stuff that’s officially classified as “unfit for human consumption” — yet still legal for use in commercial dog food.

Take, for example, wheat middlings, a manufacturing by-product also known as wheat mill run.

According to the pet food industry…

Middlings are “fine particles of wheat bran, wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour, and some of the offal [waste] from the tail of the mill”1

Grain industry insiders affectionately refer to this cheap and inferior waste product as “floor sweepings”. And even though this rejected material is of questionable nutritional value — it’s still used to make dog food.

Dog Food Ingredient?
Or Manufacturing Waste?

Then, there’s that mysterious ingredient known as “cereal food fines”?  Ever seen this one on a product label before?

Cereal fines are “particles of breakfast cereals obtained as a by-product of their processing”2

Cereal fines is simply manufacturing debris. And since the precise origin of the “parent” cereal is typically unknown, this low quality waste is frequently loaded with unidentified processing residue.

Basically, cereal fines are lower quality ingredients that have been excluded from use in the human food industry.

But once again — they’re completely legal for making dog food.

Here’s a partial list of some of the more common, inferior quality grain by-products used to make dog food…

  • Peanut hulls
  • Corn cobs
  • Oat hulls
  • Rice hulls
  • Soybean hulls
  • Cottonseed hulls
  • Brewer’s rice
  • Almond shells
  • Grain fragments
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Fermentation waste

When Cheap Grains Aren’t Cheap Enough

Now, obviously, companies that use materials like these are simply focused on profits — on saving money. 

Not on making quality dog food.

With wholesome grains so readily available and priced so low, why must dog food companies opt to use such low quality by-products? Just to save a few pennies?

Thank goodness there are still some responsible companies out there who resist the temptation to choose profit first — over the health of our beloved pets.

Final word

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1: Official Publication, Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition, Section 93.5, p. 359

2: Official Publication, Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition, Section 60.14, p. 324

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